United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Technical Assistance Request, Authorization of Employee Eating and Drinking Areas in Labs at Veterans Administration Medical Center, Martinez, California

HPPOS-318 PDR-9306280312

Title: Technical Assistance Request, Authorization of

Employee Eating and Drinking Areas in Labs at Veterans

Administration Medical Center, Martinez, California

See the memorandum from J. E. Glenn to R. J. Pate dated

March 27, 1992. This NMSS memo responds to a technical

assistance request from Region V, dated January 17, 1992,

regarding designation of two employee eating and drinking

areas in research laboratories at the Veterans

Administration Medical Center in Martinez, California

(VA-Martinez). Review of this issue reveals a number of

health physics considerations. However, NMSS cannot

justify an absolute requirement that all areas for eating

and drinking be separated from use areas by physical

barriers such as doors.

The eating and drinking areas may be authorized, provided

the following radiation safety concerns are sufficiently

addressed by VA-Martinez:

1. The licensee must specify the typical procedures

carried out, quantities involved, and radioactivity

measured for each isotope in each lab. Large quantities of

radioisotopes may cause greater health and safety concerns.

For example, the procedures conducted in lab area 113A may

involve the use of phosphorous-32 or iodine-125 in

millicurie quantities which could result in considerable

spread of contamination and could not be approved without a

barrier such as a door.

2. The licensee must develop sufficient safety

measures to assure that there is no transfer of food,

drink, or radioactive materials between the radioactive

material use area and the eating area. For example, what

measures will be taken to assure that employees remove

their protective gloves and wash their hands before

entering the eating area?

3. The licensee must detail how the eating area will

be separated from the working area and how the flow of

radioactive material into the area will be restricted. For

example, the area could be marked by tape and posted with

signs, provided such notices are clearly visible to prevent

inadvertent entry with radioactive material.

4. The licensee must confirm that food, drink, or

personal effects will not be stored with radioactive

materials. Specifically, does the eating area designated

in room 112A also serve as a radioactive storage area (is

radioactive material stored in the freezer, refrigerator,

or cabinet)?

5. The licensee must designate one sink in each lab

that will only be used for non-radioactive hand, utensil,

and/or dish washing. The sink must be restricted from

radioactive material and, if possible, should be in close

proximity to the eating area. This sink should be included

in the routine laboratory surveys.

6. The licensee must address the frequency of

radiation surveys and types of measurements to be made in

each of the labs. Alternatively, the licensee may provide

evidence that the existing frequency of scheduled surveys

for each lab and corresponding air filtration systems will

be effective in monitoring the safety of the designated

eating areas. For example, one area of concern is whether

wipe tests for removable contamination of tritium and

carbon-14 will be performed at effective intervals in area

115A.

7. The licensee must describe both initial and

periodic training. The training must specifically inform

employees of the restrictions in place and precautions to

be followed. Both new and current laboratory personnel,

including janitorial and other assisting staffs who have

access to the laboratory, must receive training.

8. The licensee must assure that entry and exit to the

designated eating and drinking areas can be obtained

without bringing food and drink through a radioactive

materials use area. This appears to be a problem with room

112A.

The determination of the adequacy of the responses provided

by VA-Martinez to authorize the two eating and drinking

areas is the decision of the regional office.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 20.1201, 10 CFR 20.1501

Subject codes: 5.0, 11.2

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012